HYOGO, Japan — Toyo Tire Corp. has started production at its tire plant in Serbia, with output initially focused "preferentially" on supplying the U.S. market, where Toyo is experiencing "robust" demand.
Originally scheduled to start operations in April, the full-scale launch of the $450 million project was delayed somewhat due to "COVID-related influences," the Japanese tire maker said earlier.
Toyo broke ground on the plant in Indjija City — a municipality of about 47,000 residents northwest of Belgrade in the autonomous province of Vojvodina — in December 2020.
The plant, Toyo's first in Europe and eighth worldwide, opens with nameplate capacity of 5 million passenger and light commercial vehicle tires a year.
Toyo said in its first-half earnings report it expects to ramp up to that level of production by September 2023, with 60% of production (3 million units) earmarked for Europe and the rest for North America.
Production started July 27, Toyo said, with shipments scheduled to begin in August. Toyo did not say which tires are being produced initially.
Toyo reported sales revenue in North America grew nearly 35% in the six months ended June 30 to $1.2 billion. Business grew nearly 40% in the second quartet alone, prompting management to project fiscal 2022 revenue will grow by 39% to over $2.5 billion, based on current exchange rates.
Toyo also reported that production volume in the U.S. is expected to be up more than 11% this year over 2021 to help support growth.
Employment at the plant is expected to be 560 at full capacity.